Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich contended Monday one deceptive technique Democratic congressional leaders may use to bring down the price tag of the $3.5 trillion so-called human infrastructure bill is to only fund the programs for a limited period of time.
In this way, the total cost of the legislation could even be dropped down to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s $1.5 trillion top line.
However, when the funding does run out in a few years, it would be very challenging politically to not continue the new entitlement programs the bill creates, like taxpayer funded universal pre-k, tuition-free community college, expanded child tax credits and increased Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
Some of the other proposed high dollar benefits include rental assistance and child care payments, as well as paid family and medical leave.
“The thing is that Washington math is notoriously funny, and you can make a $1 trillion bill into $2 trillion. You can make a $3 trillion bill that helps fewer people,” the congresswoman said.
“AOC’s right,” Gingrich observed. “You could write this bill to only fund the program for two years. That would shrink the whole bill. It’d be a lie. But it would shrink the whole bill.”
“Now you’d be down to the number that, in theory, Manchin and Sinema could vote for. I don’t think they’ll get away with that, but they could,” he added.
Fox News host Dana Perino concurred with Gingrich’s assessment.
“Here’s another possible tactic that they’re going to use,” she said. “And that would be to get all those programs AOC was just talking about, put them in the bill, but only fund them for two or three years, setting up basically for the Republicans to have to answer it in 2024, ‘Are you going to continue the child tax credit?’ and try to weaponize that issue.”
The $3.5 trillion reconciliation legislation calls for the enhanced benefit to continue through 2025.
Gingrich noted that outside groups recognize it is not realistic to believe the benefit would end if it is put in place for a period of years and not tied to pandemic relief.
“They call it $3.5 trillion. Outside experts call it $5.5 trillion because there are all sorts of sections in this $3.5 trillion bill that are not fully funded,” he said.
“You could as a gimmick come right down to $1.2 trillion, fund it for two years and then look at Sinema and Manchin and say, ‘Alright, we met your cap.’ And I think that would be a very interesting game of chicken,” Gingrich continued.
“It would be bad for the country. It’s a terrible way to legislate, but if you are a big government socialist and you’re desperate to get all this money, it’s a rational strategy.”
For example, the committee noted the true cost of the child tax credit would be $1.1 trillion over a decade, not $436 billion as the current legislation states.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board argued that same month, the Democrats’ “plan is to include every program but start small and pretend they’re temporary. This will let them skirt the budget-reconciliation rule that spending can’t add to the deficit outside a 10-year budget window without triggering a 60-vote threshold to pass.”
A newly released poll by the Trafalgar Group/Convention of States found that 71.5 percent of voters polled were less likely to support the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill if they knew it increased taxes and national debt.
Among Democrats surveyed, just over 50 percent responded they were less likely to support the legislation, while 92 percent of Republicans said the same.
For those who have no party affiliation, nearly 74 percent indicated they were not likely to back the bill.
The poll was conducted from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1. There were 1,076 respondents of likely general election voters, with a margin of error of +/- 2.99 percent.